By Noah Goldfarb
Office work and networking collide at Running Start, a Worcester-based company that offers established companies and startups alike a collaborative environment to build their businesses.
Companies from a variety of fields, including marketing, videography, and software development are able to purchase a membership to Running Start on a monthly basis. Plans range in prices beginning at $75, and allow the member access to “flex-space” – the open floor, which includes white-board desks, living-room style seating, and even a treadmill desk. A private office can cost up to $500.
Members are encouraged to pick the plan suited for them based on their need for privacy and access.
“If you need more privacy and a ton of access, then an office is the way to go. If you just need a few days a month to come in and you’re just sort of a business-hours type of person, then the $75 plan is going to be best for you,” said Running Start co-founder Ryan Leary.
This concept of a collaborative work environment is called “co-working,” and has been growing in popularity, especially with start-ups, as a way of sparking creativity in the workplace.
“The idea is to get a bunch of different people doing a bunch of different things together, and to see what sort of interactions happen from there,” Leary said.
Running Start was launched in 2012, and only recently moved to their current location. Their new location contains a total of eight private offices, 3,000 feet of flex space, and a conference room.
Coworking has taken root all over the world, with spaces similar to Leary’s starting up in most major American cities. In addition to the Worcester location, Running Start has partnered with Workbar, one of many coworking hubs that have opened in Boston in recent years.
The Chamber of Commerce has teamed up with Running Start, and will be awarding 12 startups run by students and recent graduates from local universities. They will receive a membership to the co-working space, the Venture Forum, and the Chamber of Commerce for a year.
The Venture Forum is one of many groups that believe Worcester is an up-and-coming entrepreneurial hub. Founded at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, The Venture Forum is a non-profit organization that seeks to support technological entrepreneurs, and looks to Worcester for the next great startup.
In recent years, the Chamber of Commerce, along with the city government, has been working to draw in tech companies.
According to www.worcesterma.gov, the city’s official website, “Worcester has evolved from its days as a manufacturing giant into a leader in information technology, biotechnology, healthcare and medical research.”
Worcester’s 13 colleges and universities are cited as one of the major reasons the city has become attractive to new businesses. Running Start is just one example of how new ideas are breathing life back into the city’s economy and coworking. Similar ideas are proving that a modern company benefits from a modern office.
A software developer and marketing strategist collaborate at Running Start.Photo by Noah Goldfarb